Illes Relief should be returned to Geneva (August 28 2012) Illes Relief should be returned to Geneva (August 28 2012)

Maryvelma Smith O’Neil the American Historian and activist for Palestinian statehood has published an article on Aljazeera arguing the Illes Relief as a prized treasure should be returned to Geneva rather than squandered in Jerusalem. In the article O’Neil states “The model relief was made by Stephan Illés, an enterprising young Hungarian Catholic, who arrived in Jerusalem in 1864. He spent his days quietly binding books to earn a living, but escaped after dark into a marvellous miniature world of his own creation. From 1872 to 1873, he painstakingly crafted a 4.5 by 5 metre (15 by 16ft) 3D model to make what came to be known as the Illés Relief – a 19th century Google Map of Jerusalem. …Back in Geneva, the Maison de la Réformation council had been assured that the relief would be seen by thousands of museum-goers. However, finding it today demands directed curiosity or deliberate intention – since it is tucked away deep in the subterranean level, where it attracts few visitors – as recently attested by a museum guide. It is the only artifact in the museum, yet it is simply described on a plaque as “a 19th century model of Jerusalem”. This near absence of curatorial documentation does not fall in line with Professor Rubin’s valuation of it as “an accurate and detailed cartographic document and therefore an important and unique source for the study of the history and georgraphy of Jerusalem in the 19th century”. “


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Bangkok Allure